The beautiful, romantic Glencar Waterfall in County Leitrim is well hidden off the road between Sligo and Manorhamilton/Enniskillen, at the bottom of Kings mountain. With a drop of about 50 feet, it is a small but enchanting cascade -- its lush foliage and craggy, layered rocks offering offering a "lost world" atmosphere. The waterfall has two stages, with the shallower, stepped pool the first you will encounter as you begin ascending the slope. A charming walkway and wooden handrail helps you climb towards the top so no special footwear is required, although there are a lot of steps involved, which may be difficult for those with mobility problems. After about 5 minutes, (for a person of average mobility) you will reach the higher, more impressive waterfall. Glencar is particularly impressive after a night's rainfall (this being the west of Ireland, your chances here are good!).
There is a free car park just off the road, opposite where you start ascending for the waterfall. There are also toilet facilities. There are wooden seats every 100 metres or so along the path up the ascent to the waterfall, and some benches for picnics.
W.B. Yeats / The Stolen Child
Dublin-born poet William Butler Yeats, winner of the Nobel prize for literature, spent much his childhood in nearby County Sligo. The scenery of the region left a deep impression on him -- he was buried just a few miles away at Drumcliffe cemetery under Benbulben mountain, which together with Kings mountain forms the Darty mountain range. Many other landmarks from the region feature in Yeats's poetry. Glencar is mentioned in a verse of Yeats's best loved poems The Stolen Child. The poem is based on what was then a common Irish myth -- about faeries beguiling an infant to come away with them: The Stolen Child (Verse 3) Where the wandering water gushes From the hills above Glen-Car, In pools among the rushes That scarce could bathe a star, We seek for slumbering trout And whispering in their ears Give them unquiet dreams; Leaning softly out From ferns that drop their tears Over the young streams. Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand, For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
The nearby Glencar Lake, on the roadside opposite the car park / start of the ascent to the waterfall, is a beautiful, serene and silvery lough. Approximately 2 miles (3.2km) long by 0.5 miles (0.8km) wide, it is popular with local anglers. The main catches are trout, sea trout and salmon.
Glencar Waterfall and Lake lie about 8 miles / 13km north of Sligo town, and about 5 miles / 8km south of Manorhamilton. Setting out from Sligo, take the N16 toward Manorhamilton. After a few minutes driving, look out for the large brown tourism sign that says "Glencar Lake and Waterfall (4km)". Turn left immediately down a small country road, and follow that road until you get the lake (Glencar Lake). At the end of the lake, you will see the carpark. Pull in here. The ascent to the waterfall is on the opposite side of the road.
Glencar Waterfall. Image by rosario fiore.